Now, in its 31st season, Raven Theatre, located on the North side in what used to be a grocery store, continues to bring us stories that “illuminate the American Experience” allowing audience members to reflect of their lives as well as those of the characters on the stages of the theater. The Raven Theatre, as always offers quality theater at affordable prices and their stage, intimate “storefront” types, allow the audience the intimacy that makes the experience memorable. Their current production is one that played at The Goodman several seasons ago when they had the Horton Foote Festival, and under the direction of Joann Montemurro, with a strong cast led by the incredible Millicent Hurley Spencer, this production brought the story to a higher level, at least for me. It is a long play, three acts ( two intermissions) and close to 2 1/2 hours, but despite the length, it was so well put together that it appeared to be much shorter. In fact, when I did peer at my watch, I was surprised to see just how much time had elapsed.
“Trip” is a story about an older woman, Carrie Watts ( the incredible Ms Spencer) who has been forced to leave her home in a small town in Texas called Bountiful, in order to move in with her son, Ludie ( deftly handled by Michael Boone) and his wife, Jessie Mae ( a powerful performance by Eleanor Katz) in Houston. In Houston, she lives in a small apartment, sleeping on the couch and caring for her daughter-in-law who is a spoiled, selfish woman.Over the years, she has tried to escape and get back to her home in Bountiful, but each time is caught and returned home to Houston and the tension that exists in this tiny flat.
Evry month, when her Government pension check comes, her son’s wife takes it from her and uses it to buy personal items and get her nails and hair done. But , this month, Carrie has a new plan of escape and is going to use the bus instead of the train. She does leave Houston and makes it to her hometown of Bountiful, meeting some help along the way and finding out that change is something that will take place and that to survive, we need to make some of our own changes.
I certainly do not want to give away the ending of this story, but what we find is that changes can be made and that what our dreams and hopes are, while they may be altered are a key in keeping our spirits high. We need to have goals and aims and we need to reach out for the things we love and want, but we must also listen to reason and be prepared to deal with those who surround us, our families. Along the way on this wonderful trip back home, we learn as does Carrie, that we can have peace once we have made peace.
The ensemble in this play take on the smaller roles but prove that every role in every play has importance, from the ticket seller to the Sherif (Larry Carani)to her fellow traveler(Jen Short) to the others ( Justin Castellan and Conor Clark) each helping to make the story come alive- these are often the unsung performers who make a play one to see. The tech staff is of great import as well: Ray Toler has created a set that is open , becomes two different bus stations, an actual bus and a worndown house in a worn out town- nice job on a limited budget. Diane Fairchild’s lighting is sheer perfection as is the sound by Luke Sword and the props ( Mary O’Dowd and costumes (Kate Murphy) are the icing on the cake.
“The Trip To Bountiful” is worth the trip to Edgewater/The Raven and the play will run through November 17th with performances as follows:
Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $36
Seniors save $5, Students pay $15 and there are “industry” nights at $10 for people in the theater industry
To order your tickets call the box office at 773-338-2177 or visit www.raventheatre.com
The Raven Theatre is located at 6157 N. Clark Street with free parking on the premise, some free street parking, some metered and the Clark Street bus stops right at the corner of Granville
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-UP and click at “The Trip To Bountiful”